Being able to talk to animals was my lofty aspiration at the age of two. In reality, there are lots of people who have a way with animals. You’ll know them in a heartbeat. They can walk into your house and have your dog behaving in seconds and looking to them as their long-lost leader. When I did this with one particular dog, it was enough to bring one of my clients (the dog’s owner) to tears, “Why doesn’t Alice look at me that way?” she asked.
Alice eventually did look at her owner that way, but first I taught the owner what I knew by instinct and experience—a new thought pattern, which began with respect for her dog and an understanding of how she had played a role in creating the problem with her dog. In this chapter, you’ll learn what I taught her.
A lot goes into being a good dog trainer and most of it’s a mental thing. Even big dogs—dogs that weigh more than their owners—can be muscled or scared into good behavior. Dogs have spirits, just like the rest of us, that must be understood and encouraged in ways that make “dog sense.” Your dog has bestowed upon you the highest honour, one you’d never receive from a human: a lifetime commitment to respect your judgment and abide by your rules. You need only to show her how.
Watch this video to learn more about basic dog training:
Your First Lesson
The point of this blog post is to help you become a good dog trainer before you begin working with your dog. I’ll go over stuff I’d teach you if I were working with you personally, stuff that will help you understand and train your dog better. There are five key things to remember.
A good dog trainer:
Never blames the dog
Recognizes the dog’s unique personality
Accepts and modifies his own personality
Understands his role in the training process
Learns from the dog
Let’s go through them one at a time!
Never Blame the Dog
Believe it or not, dogs don’t react out of spite. Their behavior is directly related to their owner’s reactions. My mantra?
A dog will repeat whatever gets attention.
Whatever! And they don’t care whether the attention is negative or positive! So if anyone is out there saying, “I tell her she’s bad, but she just ignores me!” I have something to tell you: Your dog interprets your discipline as interaction and will repeat the unwanted behavior again and again.
Now I probably have you wondering how to handle unruly situations. Good. I’m whetting your appetite. The first step to becoming a good dog trainer is to stop blaming the dog!
Recognize the Dog’s Unique Personality
Yes, dogs have personalities, too! If you’ve had more than one dog, I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about. So many of my clients have started their sob stories with “My last dog was so easy…” “But,” I respond with a smile, “this isn’t your last dog. This dog is unique. And to train him, you must begin by understanding his personality.”